3 Commercial Applications of Music Production
No doubt, music production is an artistic endeavour. It involves creating and recording sound and then processing, refining and manipulating it, after which it is delivered to the public or its intended audience for their consumption and enjoyment.
Most people, however, mainly associate the music production process with music heard on streaming platforms — i.e., songs.
It is so much bigger than that, however, and it is a process that has many uses aside from packaging music and lyrics together to make the next Billboard hits.
Here are three commercial applications of music production.
1. Sonic Branding
Somebody’s walking up the stairs, but you don’t need to look to guess who it is. The cadence of the person’s tread is something you’ve heard a million times, and without a shadow of doubt, you know to whom it belongs.
That’s pretty much how sonic branding works. It is the process of associating a particular sound with a brand so that when you hear the sound, you don’t need to check or think twice about which entity it represents.
With successful sonic branding, you know immediately to whom a particular sound pertains and belongs.
Sonic marks can be a few notes, an extended melody or a jingle. As long as the sound brings to mind a particular brand, it qualifies as that brand’s audio logo.
The following are some of the most-recognisable sound logos out there:
- Netflix’s “Ta-dum”
- Intel’s “bong”
- THX’s “deep note”
- MGM’s lion’s roar
- 20th Century Fox’s full orchestra fanfare
- Apple Macintosh’s start-up sound
- “The best part of waking up” jingle by Folgers
It takes a special kind of expertise to craft effective sonic marks. It requires a knowledge of the brand and how it can be presented, first and foremost. It also demands a deep understanding of the brand’s audience.
Finally, sonic branding specialists must have the expertise (and a functional framework) to turn such knowledge and insight into a sound signature that will stand out and leave its mark.
2. Sound Design for Film
When people talk about “Avengers: Infinity War,” particularly the scene involving “The Snap” or “The Blip,” they will recall the circumstances leading up to the incident and the events immediately following.
People will talk about that moment the sixth infinity stone dropped into the last remaining slot of Thanos’ infinity gauntlet.
They may describe how Thor successfully brought Thanos to his knees but failed to prevent the said villain from snapping his fingers and exterminating half of all life in the universe.
However, no one (except perhaps sound engineers) will likely talk about the sounds that accompanied the momentous scene.
Nobody will think about that tinny jangle as Thanos prepared for the snap and that blunt metallic flick as his thumb made contact with and slid off his middle finger towards his forefinger. Probably no one will recall Thor’s cut-off “No” and the sound of implosion that came right after.
That being said, sound is crucial to films. Try watching your favourite movie — yes, even “Avengers: Infinity War” — on mute and see how much you like it when you can’t hear anything.
Indeed, sound design is a necessary component of film-making. The sound design team is responsible for creating the sound effects that will accompany particular scenes.
Sound designers must be imaginative and creative. Frequently, the obvious source of the sound (whatever is happening on screen) is not how the sound is created.
Think of Denzel Washington’s movie, “Flight.” You can’t really crash a plane just because you need to record the sounds of a plane crash.
How do you record the sound of a dog walking? The sound a dog makes as it walks on the floor probably doesn’t match the sound you imagine in your head.
Thus, instead of walking actual dogs to make the corresponding sound, they may put on gloves with paper clips taped at the end of the fingers and start tap-tapping them on a hard surface.
Likewise, sound designers can snap a bunch of celery in half to create the sound of bones breaking. To accompany a scene where a character cries in grief, the sound designer will not only record actual crying sounds but may add a musical score that will make everything seem more heart-breaking.
Sound design for film requires creativity. It takes a lot of imagination and skills to choose musical scores and produce sounds that blend in seamlessly with movie scenes.
You know you’ve done an exceptional job when the audience takes the sounds you created as a given and doesn’t particularly notice they’re there.
3. Sound Design for Events
Have you ever watched fireworks live? Then you know they’re incredibly exciting. The whistle, crack, and boom of firecrackers — they fire up your blood and accelerate your heartbeat.
However, do you know what’s more exhilarating? It’s a light, water and fireworks event, like the one Burj Khalifa holds every New Year’s eve.
In this, too, music production plays a role. Music sets the mood and communicates feelings, providing an auditory filter for events.
Thus, a grand extravaganza like a New Year’s show featuring hundreds of thousands of fireworks needs to be accompanied by music that will let the audience “feel” the scope and scale of the said event.
Picture this: the fountains lighting up like blooming flowers as the aria Nessun Dorma crescendos in the background.
That’s breath-taking and jaw-dropping drama right there. How about fireworks erupting from the façade of the Burj Khalifa, every outburst accompanied by an intense symphony played by a full orchestra?
Now imagine everything happening sans the music. The light sequences and the fireworks can be extremely technically complex.
However, without sound, they will never be as engaging or captivating. To reiterate, the sound sets the mood and conveys feelings, providing the right filter for processing whatever the eyes are seeing.
Sound design for events requires strict planning and close coordination with the event organisers and tech staff.
Fireworks, lights and fountains need to “dance” to the music, while the lights and music in concerts and performances must likewise be in sync.
The music must also be crafted, arranged and produced skilfully to ensure the audience will get the full aural experience.
Sound is beautiful, and music production is fascinating. A progression of musical notes created in one of the recording studios in Dubai can become the sonic identity of a brand like Emirates, the rustling of a rubbish bag, the swish of a film character’s coat, and an aria from Giacomo Puccini’s “Turandot,”
The Dubai Fountain’s resonating anthem. In every case, creative music production ensures the sound will hook and engage, and the feelings they arouse will remain long after the visuals are gone.
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